Leon Camier, the leader of the ViSK British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli, looks all set to extend his advantage over his Airwaves Yamaha team-mate James Ellison in the title stakes after scorching clear of the pack in opening practice for Sunday’s fourth round at Thruxton.
Camier, eager to make up ground lost by a momentary technical problem in the previous race at Donington Park, proved the dominant force at the Hampshire circuit with a best lap of 1m 15.306secs, an average speed of 112.62mph.
That put him a full second clear of the rest, led by Stuart Easton aboard the Hydrex Honda, with Ellison, currently 28 points down on Camier in the standings, a split second down on the Flying Scot.
“I got into a really good rhythm,” said Camier. “The bike is working really well and doing what I want it to do. It is good on top speed and I’ll be studying the lap analysis to see where I can improve around the circuit, but just at the moment I am feeling good and confident.”
Easton, a growing force in the championship after a pair of podium finishes in the previous round, was not too disappointed to be second best: “I would like to have been closer to Leon, but we have had a few little problems – currently we have all top end speed and need a better spread of power for this circuit.”
The team were rectifying that with an overnight engine change, and Easton expected more tweaks to add to the performance of his bike: “We’ve got a couple of other things to change, and I’ve got to get my head down and get on with it.”
Ellison ran third fastest with a lap of 1m 16.353secs, a split second up on Simon Andrews who had worked hard aboard the MSS Colchester Kawasaki despite niggling electrical problems while Karl Harris, fastest in the morning session escaped unscathed in a high-speed tumble early on next time out, returning to run fifth fastest.
Ian Lowry was sixth for Relentless Suzuki from Glen Richards on the HM Plant Honda while Michael Rutter, deputising for the injured Sylvain Guintoli, ran eighth fastest aboard the Worx Crescent Suzuki.
“It is so different to the other bikes I have ridden before but it is not taking long to adapt. I know that this bike is proven race winner and am feeling good the more laps that I put in,” said Rutter who ran just ahead of John Laverty and Chris Walker.
Gary Mason, the runaway leader of the Mirror.co.uk Cup with a straight six victories, looks all set to continue that rich vein of form aboard the Quay Garage Honda. He ran eleventh overall, with a lap of 1m 17.084secs, to be six places and a third of a second faster than Ultimate Racing Yamaha rider Peter Hickman.
Tom Tunstall ran third fastest in the Cup category aboard the Hardinge Doodson Honda, ahead of Alastair Fagan’s Red Viper Honda and Martin Jessopp on the Riders Racing Honda.
Top ten times – free practice – Thruxton
Leon Camier (Airwaves Yamaha) 1m:15.306s
Stuart Easton (Hydrex Honda) +1.029s
James Ellison (Airwaves Yamaha) +1.047s
Simon Andrews (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +1.062s
Karl Harris (Hydrex Honda) +1.215s
Ian Lowry (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +1.316s
Glen Richards (HM Plant Honda) +1.500s
Michael Rutter (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +1.526s
John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) +1.527s
Chris Walker (Motorpoint/Henderson Yamaha) +1.742s